The Subway- (Short Story) -(tw for horror)
This is a story I wrote a long time ago, about someone who descended down the subway stairs and never returned.
I was inspired over two years ago by a set of rather eerie stairs that I saw while wandering a university campus in Canada on an overcast day. Turns out that the stairs simply led to an underground parking lot, but my imagination had already sped ahead by that point. And so this short little concept was born.
The sky was an ashen shade of grey, a slow rumble of thunder in the distance. The wind whistled eerily through the branches of the trees dotting the pavement. I stared out over the road, my hands searching my pockets for my mobile. The tall, stone library, a CLOSED sign over the door, stared indifferently at me, as the school buildings of the university stood silently, windows dark and apathetic.
I jumped as my mobile rang, the caller ID signalling one of my friends, Darcy.
I was new to the town, unfamiliar with the surroundings, and answered the phone with slightly trembling hands from the biting cold.
“Hey Darcy,” I greeted, stuffing my left hand in my pocket for some warmth.
“Hey, you still meeting us at six? Dinner’s on me tonight.”
I nodded, then remembered that she couldn’t see me. “Sure, I’ll meet you at the restaurant. 3rd Maple right?”
“Yep, see you soon.”
There was a click as she hung up the phone on the other end, and I was met with a dial tone.
I couldn’t remember why I was standing in the middle of campus. I looked around, then realised I was here to return an overdue book. I walked over the grassy field to the book deposit box, pushing the flap open. It creaked on its rusty iron hinges and I stuffed the book in, ready to head back.
A sudden clap of thunder, and the sky split open, sending rainwater cascading over my shoulders. I cursed furiously under my breath, looking around for cover. The dormitories were a ten minute walk away, and everything nearby was closed. Almost the entire campus was shut down, everyone taking a lazy holiday off. I slouched deeper into my hoodie, and that’s when something at the edge of my gaze caught my eye.
It was one of those staircases winding down to into the dark, sheltered by a small overhang, at the edge of the road. The stone steps leading down were slightly crumbled and litter, empty coke bottles, abandoned plastic bags, decorated the stairwell. It turned down into darkness, but it was dry. I ducked underneath the overhang, making my way down one flight, leaning against the wall and staring upwards at the wet and dreary world outside. A fresh clap of lightning sent me stumbling backwards further, almost slipping on a grimy Styrofoam cup rotting in the corner. The wind whistled louder here, and I stared at the other flight of stairs leading further downwards. The light bulb flickered, broken and cracked. Coughing into my damp shirt sleeve, I peered downwards, curiosity getting the best of me. There was a suffocating silence, broken only by the drip and patter of thick raindrops on the overhang above.
I took one step downwards, the second flight of stairs, turning a corner and leaving the first one behind. I almost expected to see someone there, a pair of eyes greeting me from beyond the blackness, but I was simply met with a door, beaten down and unassuming. Graffiti was sprayed across it, faded and old, and long past legible. The wind still rattled down here, rushing down the stairwell. I walked further downwards, curious. The sound of rain faded and I tilted my hand slightly, touching one of the peeling posters advertising some foreign event. There was another jet of wind and the door began rattling.
Slow, at first, and then faster.
Like something was trying to get out. I swallowed, mouth dry. The wind was coming from inside. It was coming from inside. I glanced at the handle, placing a single finger on it. It was freezing cold, like no human had ever touched it before, no living soul had ever grazed its surface.
Wind whistled, louder, higher, through the cracks, pleading, begging, screaming. I wrapped my hand around the handle, leaned against it as I hesitatingly placed an ear against the dusty frame. If I walked away now, I would forever wonder. Wonder-
With a mighty crash the door swung inwards and I stumbled, nearly falling and catching myself just in time.
Silence. Deafening silence.
Behind the door was a hall that looked like a train platform, empty and stretching out endlessly before me. An empt ticket counter stood in the centre. A newspaper stand, void of any newspapers, was next to it. Smooth, polished benches faced the empty tunnel. The light from the outside seemed to stop at the door, unable to cast even a flicker onto the scene before me. There wasn’t a soul in sight. And yet…
Low mutters. Whispers. Chatter. The sound of busy commuters, an echo, barely audible. I took one step in, peering around. The door clicked shut quietly behind me, as if it didn’t want to disturb me. In an instant, the sound of gentle showers of the outdoors was silenced, as if somebody had thrown a blanket over a roaring flame. The whistling of the wind faded into nothingness, oblivion, and I stood there, hands by my side.
Darkness. Flickering shadows. The slow rumble of something far away. The barely audible whispers. Mutterings. A crowd.
A split second later, a blink of an eye, and suddenly blinding light flooded the tunnel, a train appeared, conjured into existence and shot forward, gliding to a stop next to me. Welcoming me. Drawing me in. I covered my eyes slightly, the white light from the train pouring forward as the doors slid open without a sound.
The train was crowded, full of people, pressing into each other. But they seemed slightly blurred, out of focus, as if they were old photographs, fading into one another. An indistinguishable crowd that your eyes just can’t make out. Barely existing, in the background. Only one stood out. An old man, holding a briefcase. His large hat cast his face in shadow. I could make out no features, just his dark coat. Everything else cast in shadow. He beckoned towards me.
“Are you coming?” The voice. Soft. Distance. A whisper. A whisper that cut to the bone.
“I didn’t know that the subway passed through here.” It was the only thing I could think of to say.
“It’s okay. Come. It is leaving soon. Better get on quick. Quick, quick, quick, my love. Quick quick quick.”
I didn’t know what drew me forward. I didn’t know what made my legs move, what beckoned me to the white light that seemed too pristine, too perfect. I slipped into the space beside him. Just enough space for me. Like somebody had carved the exact outline of my body into thin air. Too perfect.
The door slid closed. The train stood still for a moment. I stared out the windows at the hall.
I expected to see the same empty platform in front of the doors.
Instead, I saw nothing. Only never ending blackness. Stretching on forever.
The train began to move forward.
I turned around, confused.
The old man had vanished.
I was pressed on all sides. Crowded. Yet nobody seemed to be touching me. It was odd. I took a shallow breath.
The lights on the train began to flicker.
The darkness of the tunnel suffocated on all sides. I blinked. The people around seemed to move closer. The lights flickered more dangerously now. Darkness. For one second. One second later, lights back on. They moved closer. Their hands seemed to be reaching. Reaching for me. Flickering and flickering. Long, elongated fingers, far too skeletal to be human. A mere hair away from my shoulder. Reaching.
Another flicker, and then-
I could hear the steady pump of my heart. The rush of blood through my arteries. Slowly increasing in frequency and intensity. I could hear the bead of sweat rolling down my forehead. I could hear the shift of my eyelids as I blinked.
As suddenly as it disappeared, it appeared.
White light blinded me. It flooded through the interior of the train like a tidal wave, thundering through the darkness. I took a step backwards, and when I regained my eyesight I saw-
Emptiness. The entire train was empty. Not a single soul in sight. No shadow. No one. Yet it continued moving. Shifting slightly. Hurtling through the darkness. Seats unoccupied. Space voice of any living thing.
The train made no noise. I could hear no billow of wind, no bump of wheel on track. I began to walk forward, looking left and right. I could feel my heartbeat against my throat. It felt like the very organ was going to come up mouth, all blood and flesh, my insides spilling out, making no noise as they hit the pristine, unmarked floor of the train.
I continued walking.
The train continued travelling.
I walked. And walked. And walked.
Half an hour later.
I was still walking.
I didn’t stop.
I couldn’t stop.
Part of me knew.
Yet part of me just kept walking.
An hour later, I halted in my tracks.
Every car looked exactly the same. I peered backwards and forwards. The same emptiness stretched endlessly, vanishing into white spots into the distance.
yet the blackness pressing down against the train windows and doors remained unchanged. Just black. Darkness. Endless darkness.
I sat down on one of the empty seats. It was cold. Cold to the point in which I knew it had never seen humanity, and it never would.
I began to wonder if I was even there at all.
I felt for my phone in my pocket. My hand closed around it, and in desperation I grabbed it out. The screen was black. I pressed the button. I pressed so hard its shaped imprinted into my flesh. No response. I sat there, pressing, pressing. Praying. Hoping. Begging. Pleading. Nothing.
I opened my mouth, feeling a scream coming out, yet there was nothing.
No tears. No sound. My hands began shaking. I felt like a demon was going to erupt out of my chest, shattering my ribcage, tearing at my guts and my lungs, yelling, shouting.
My phone dropped to the ground. I stepped on it as I rushed for the door, kicking and punching, fingers, sticky with sweat, knuckles, cracking open with blood, sliding down the smooth surface. No budge. I kicked and shoved until the energy had been drained from me entirely. I sat on the ground, staring off into the darkness.
Somehow, I knew.
I wasn’t getting out of there. The doors would never open. The train would never stop. Not until I was dead. Not until the last sliver of life had left me. Not until my flesh had disintegrated into nothingness, my bones into sand and dust. Not until I had been erased, completely.
Somehow, I knew.
I had already ceased to exist.
And there was nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing I could do.